Gloriously witty adaptation of the Broadway musical about Professor Henry Higgins, who takes a bet from Colonel Pickering that he can transform unrefined, dirty Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle into a lady, and fool everyone into thinking she really is one, too! He does, and thus young aristocrat Freddy Eynsford-Hill falls madly in love with her. But when Higgins takes all the credit and forgets to acknowledge her efforts, Eliza angrily leaves him for Freddy, and suddenly Higgins realizes he's grown accustomed to her face and can't really live without it. Written by
According to actress Nancy Olson, who was married to lyricist Alan Jay Lerner at the time he was writing the musical, Lerner and Frederick Loewe had the most trouble writing the final song for Henry Higgins. The two writers had based the whole concept of the musical around the notion that Higgins was far too intellectual a character to emotionally sing outright, but should speak his songs on pitch, more as an expression of ideas. However, both composer and lyricist knew that Higgins would need a love song towards the end of the story when Eliza has abandoned him. This presented an obvious problem: how to write an emotional song for an emotionless character. Lerner suffered bouts of insomnia trying to write the lyrics. One night, Olson claims, she brought him a cup of tea to soothe his nerves. As she entered his study, Lerner thanked her and said "I guess I've grown accustomed to you...I've grown accustomed to your face." According to Olson, his eyes suddenly lit up, and she sat down and watched him write the entire song in one sitting, based on the idea that although Higgins couldn't "love" Eliza in the traditional sense, he would surely notice the value she represented as part of his life. See more »
When Prof. Higgins sings "Never Let A Woman In Your Life" he turns on several phonographs, seconds later he turns off one of them but all of the sounds stop. See more »
[sounds from crowd, occasionally a word or phrase, indistinct and mostly not associated with a character]
Don't just stand there, Freddy, go and find a cab.
All right, I'll get it, I'll get it.
See more »
In the posters, playbills and the original cast album for the stage version of "My Fair Lady", the credits always read "based on Bernard Shaw's 'Pygmalion' ", letting the audience know what play "My Fair Lady" was actually adapted from. The movie credits simply read "from a play by Bernard Shaw". See more »
The quintessential musical with a staggering pedigree.
The classic case of an embarrassment of riches.
The infrastructure of this jewel reads like a Who's Who of American Cinema. Take the play by George Bernard Shaw. It's in the Western Canon of Literature, for heaven's sake. Then add lyrics by Jay Lerner and his longtime collaborator composer Frederick Loewe who gave us everything from An American in Paris, to Gigi, to Brigadoon, among many others.
Directed by George Cuckor, whose credits include not only Gone With the Wind, but also a string of Katherine Hepburn films, My Fair Lady bears Cuckor's brilliant touch in directing leading women. And what a leading woman he had to work with this time. Audrey is breathtaking in every move and every syllable she utters.
But that's not all. Those stunning costumes designed by Cecil Beaton are without peer in modern cinema, especially the Ball Gown. Audrey was so exquisite that she looked unreal, perhaps of another species, as she descended the stairs and donned her velvet cape.
With music direction by Andre Previn, the baton behind Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Kiss Me Kate and even Jesus Christ Superstar, My Fair Lady's musical pedigree is complete. From this perspective, My Fair Lady is the culmination of a generation of America musicals, and the greatest one of them all even before the first frame was filmed.
Ironically, Audrey was denied a well-deserved Oscar. She didn't even get nominated, which from an historical perspective boggles the mind. The Oscar that year went to Julie Andrews for Mary Poppins. Andrews, who had popularized the role of Eliza Doolittle on Broadway before the movie was made, passed on My Fair Lady to do Mary Poppins. Andrews, a gifted singer, was reportedly miffed at the casting of Hepburn, whose singing was dubbed by an uncredited Marne Nixon, and Hepburn's exuberant performance was completely ignored by the SAG.
But there were enough Oscars to go around. Beaton, Harrison and Previn all collected statuettes, and My Fair Lady collected eight total and was nominated for four more.
This immense achievement was almost lost to deterioration, but the newly restored version is stunning. If you don't have this one in your collection, you can't call it a collection.
24 of 36 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?